Almost half of all industrial robots in the world are in China

A report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) ensures that China has nearly half of the world’s installed heavy-duty industrial robots.. Also that last year in the country almost as many were installed in its factories as in the rest of the world. This shows an acceleration in the process of automation of industrial processes in the country, and helps to consolidate its dominance in manufacturing as its working-age population declines. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of industrial robots to China in 2021 were up 45% compared to the previous year. In total, its sales exceeded 243,000 units.

Among the reasons for this rapid automation in China is to catch up with the richest countries, since despite being the second largest economy in the world, it is behind the United States, Japan, Germany and South Korea in terms of the prevalence of robots in the world. the production lines. Also to a recognition by China that its factories need to adapt to a new situation, in which cheap labor is shrinking.

By installing and running more robots, China’s factories can fill a growing gap in the labor market and keep costs down. In this way, companies from Western countries do not have as many advantages when shifting production to other emerging markets or to their countries of origin.

China’s productivity has fallen in recent years. After rising at a rate of 9% a year between 2000 and 2010, China’s output per hour grew 7.4% a year in the following decade. Despite trade tensions with the United States and growing anxiety in the West about overreliance on Chinese-made goods, the country is still the world’s leading industrial ground. China accounts for 29% of manufacturing worldwide, according to United Nations data.

But many younger Chinese workers are leaving factory work behind for more flexible jobs in China’s booming service sector. The boom in internal migration in the country is also coming to an end. This has led to 147 million people employed in the manufacturing sector in China in 2021, compared to the 2012 peak of 169 million. In the same period, employment in the service sector rose 32% to 365 million jobs.

In addition to helping address pressures from these demographic and labor changes, automation can help Chinese factories focus more on high-end manufacturing tasks that require more precision than humans can deliver.

According to IFR data, industrial robot installations worldwide rose by 27% between 2020 and 2021. In total, 486,800 units were installed worldwide in 2021. But 2020 sales growth was very little compared to 2019, showing a greater focus on automation from last year. Also the effects of the pandemic in the sector. In any case, they rose with respect to previous years. As of 2017, when just over 380,000 units were sold worldwide.

The United States and other areas of America added 49,400 robots in 2021a quantity 27% higher than the number of robots installed in the area in 2020. In Europe, robot installations in 2021 rose 15% year-on-year, to 78,000 units.

Preliminary data coming out of China show that robot installations at electronics manufacturers in the country jumped 30% in 2021. Other sectors that also made a significant investment in robots in the country last year were car, plastics, rubber, metal and machinery manufacturers. In the first case, that of robots for car manufacturing, its facilities in 2021 rose by almost 90% year-on-year. Of course, although China’s domestic robotics sector is growing, the majority of industrial robots installed in the country last year were made in third countries. Especially in Japan.

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